Olga Smoliak, PhD, C. Psych., RMFT
Dept of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition
University of Guelph
MAC 252 50 Stone Rd E
Phone: 519-824-4120 Ext. 55336
Olga Smoliak (PhD, C. Psych., RMFT/S) is an Associate Professor in Couple and Family Therapy at the University of Guelph. She is a Clinical and Counseling Psychologist and a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist and Approved Supervisor. Olga has taken a social constructionist approach to psychotherapy and has explored the links between discourse or language use and therapy. She approaches mental illness and therapeutic encounters from an interactional, discursive perspective. In particular, she uses conversation analysis and discursive psychology to investigate how psychological and therapeutic matters are constituted discursively and how therapeutic and diagnostic interactions operate in practice. In so doing, she challenges the conventional diagnostic discourses of mental illness and unilateral, instrumental conceptions of therapeutic practice.
Olga has studied linguistic and interactional methods used by therapy participants to give and receive advice, collaborate, accomplish specific therapeutic tasks, constitute gender and gendered roles, and negotiate responsibility for blameworthy conduct. She has 50+ published works on social constructions ideas, including a co-edited volume titled Therapy as Discourse: Theory and Practice (2018). Olga is currently examining how therapists request in-session practical actions from clients, and how the authority to know and describe clients’ experience and determine clients’ actions in therapy is interactionally implemented and negotiated. She has a small-scale psychotherapy practice which inspires and is informed by her research work.